The House Built On The Rock
Matthew 7:24-29 MKJV Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock. (25) And the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it did not fall, for it was founded on a rock. (26) And everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them shall be compared to a foolish man who built his house on the sand. (27) And the rain came down, and the floods came, and the wind blew and beat on that house. And it fell, and great was its fall. (28) And it happened, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His doctrine. (29) For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Luke 6:47-49 HCSB I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: (48) He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn't shake it, because it was well built. (49) But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great!"
Jesus tells us that He expects Christians to do what He says. The difference between the wise man and the foolish is not wealth or intellect or political power, it is that the wise man does what Jesus says and the foolish man does not do what Jesus says.
Jesus us telling us that the security of our existence depends on what we do with what we believe. First we must believe Jesus' sayings, and then we must put them into action!
At one point in my university studies I did two huge biochemistry subjects in nutrition and exercise physiology. I know and believe a great deal about nutrition and exercise. I have the theory, but I do not often put it into practice, therefore I do not get the full benefits of what I believe.
To continue the exercise analogy; You do have to believe the right things first of all. If you believe that the five essential food groups are the chocolate food group, the caffeine food group, the barbecue food group, the pizza food group and the hamburger food group then you will be in trouble. But let's assume that you have the latest food pyramid guide and the diet books and the exercise books and the Bowflex machine and the exercise mat, a gym membership and a personal trainer. You may still be very unfit. You need to actually do the exercises and you need to actually stick to the diet.
So it is with spiritual things. In the Sermon On The Mount Jesus gives us guidelines for living healthy spiritual and emotional lives and we only get the full benefit if we put them into action. Theology is fascinating, but being fascinated is insufficient, we need to live it out in real life. Jesus wants us to live obedient Christian lives.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 MKJV But refuse profane and old-womanish tales, and exercise yourself to godliness. (8) For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the present life, and of that which is to come.
In other words just as some people exercise physically and gain benefit, the Christian should work at being godly and at obeying all the commandments of Jesus Christ. Obedient discipleship is not an optional extra for the super-Christians, it is required of all Christians and is what gives a solid foundation to our lives.
Obedience Brings Stability
Jesus says that obedience to His words brings solid stability to our life that allows us to survive the shocks and storms of life. Lets look at some examples of how this is so:
1.Obeying Jesus instruction on forgiveness and kindness and mercy will allow
us to keep our relationships so that our friends and family and they will still
be with us during the tough times.
2.Obeying Jesus instructions on money will ensure that we are not materialistic or up to our ears in debt.
3.Obeying Jesus' instructions about lust and adultery of the heart will allow us to keep our marriages strong.
4.Obeying Jesus' commands about anger and rage will keep us from landing in hospital, jail or the morgue.
5.Obeying Jesus commands about oaths and vows will keep you from being trapped in foolish promises.
6.Obeying Jesus instructions on prayer brings blessing and answered prayer into our lives making it stronger.
7.Obeying Jesus commands about not judging and criticizing will save us from creating resentment in others and we will make friends and not enemies.
8.Obeying Jesus' instructions about the Golden Rule will make us good human beings who other people want to have around and the good we do to others will be returned to us seven-fold.
9.Obeying Jesus instructions to be careful about false teachers will keep us from being spiritually deceived and ripped off.
10.Obeying Jesus and going through the narrow gate means we will find eternal life.
In each of these ten things obeying Jesus leads to a stronger and better life, free from the hazards and snares that so many people fall into.
On to of this obedience brings real blessing so that God brings good things into the lives of those that keep His commandments:
Romans 2:6-10 MKJV who will render to each according to his works; (7) indeed to those who with patience in good work are seeking for glory, and honor, and incorruptibility, everlasting life. (8) But to those who indeed disobeying the truth out of self-seeking, and obeying unrighteousness, will be anger and wrath, (9) tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man who has worked out evil; of the Jew first, and also of the Greek. (10) But He will give glory, honor and peace to every man who works good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 8:28 MKJV And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 MKJV (4) For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, (5) pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ; (6) and having readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
1 Peter 1:13-16 MKJV Therefore girding up the loins of your mind, being sober, perfectly hope for the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (14) as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, (15) but according to the Holy One who has called you, you also become holy in all conduct, (16) because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
Let me be clear, I am not advocating salvation by works. Christians are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9) so that they can live obedient lives doing good and being holy in all their conduct for we are new creations, made for good works which God has prepared beforehand for us to do. (Ephesians 2;10)
Ephesians 2:8-10 MKJV For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
God did not redeem us from sins just so we could go on sinning! God saves us and redeems us with the expectation that we will go on to live righteous, godly and productive lives in all holiness and truth!
Romans 6:1-2 MKJV What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? (2) Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Romans 6:22-23 MKJV But now, being made free from sin, and having become slaves to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life. (23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God expects Christians to head towards holiness and blesses every step that we take in that direction!
Disobedience Brings Instability
The contrast with house built on the rock is the hose built on the sand, the people who hear Jesus' words and do not obey them. Jesus says that their lives will topple over with a great destruction:
1.People who give way to their lusts and addictions are soon enslaved by them
and pay the price.
2.People who are dishonest or who do not manage their anger end up in trouble with the law.
3.People who commit adultery destabilize their family life.
4.People who unthinkingly join cults destabilize their spiritual life.
5.People who serve Mammon, go astray from the faith and pierce themselves with many a pang.
6.People who are unforgiving and unmerciful find that God is unforgiving and unmerciful to them.
7.People who hate their enemies and engage in wars and feuds end up in endless conflict and litigation.
8.People who are judgmental and critical, mocking and scoffing end up foolish, isolated and disliked.
9.People who engage in hypocritical praying and fasting for public approval receive no reward from God.
10.People who choose the wide path that leads to destruction end up in Hell.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 MKJV (8) in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, (9) who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
The gospel has to be both believed and obeyed. One follows on from the other, for if you truly believe something then you will live by it and obey it. It will enter into your calculations about life.
People who are disobedient to the commands of Jesus Christ suffer the consequences both now and in eternity. The sort of people who get drunk, have affairs, gamble heavily, and follow various cravings and impulses end up with very unstable lives. Their health suffers, their emotions suffer, they end up in a financial mess, and lurch from one crisis to the next.
People who unleash their anger on others end up with broken relationship and wrecked careers and some even end up charged with assault like Russell Crowe did this week. Pride, envy and selfish ambition are monsters that create “disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).
Sin leads to chaos and great vulnerability. Their lives are like a house of cards that is soon blown over by averse circumstances. The stock trader Mark Leeson made foolish trades that sunk Barings Bank, everything came crashing down because there was no foundation there.
Judas Iscariot is a great example of how disobedience leads to disaster. His weakness was money. He liked it a lot and as the disciples treasurer he would steal from the common purse. Eventually stealing led to resentment of those who were generous and to the “wasting” of the ointment that Mary poured out on Jesus. And resentment led to rejection and revenge and the betrayal of Jesus so that Judas became possessed by the Devil, and committed suicide as the “son of Perdition”. Judas' life fell apart because he chose a path of disobedience, rather than the path of repentance and faith.
Judas was there from the beginning, he heard all the teachings of Jesus and saw most of the miracles of Jesus and went on the short—term missions trips. Judas could have passed any bible college exam on the life of Christ with flying colors. But there was just one problem – Judas did not put his great knowledge of Christ into practice.
Instability comes from ignoring the plain commands of Jesus that you already know about. Instability comes because you decide it is easier and more pleasurable to live in sin. Look at the unstable and wild places on this planet full of gangs and terrorists – they are always places where the teachings of Jesus are not being put into practice. Then look at the stable, good, peaceful places on the earth and you will find places where many of Jesus' commandments are being obeyed.
“And the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house.”
The same storm hits both houses just as hard. The righteous and the wicked live in the same world. Perhaps these guys were neighbors. The storm hit both houses at the same time with the same intensity, and one stood firm and one crashed with a great downfall. Just because we obey Jesus it does not mean that there will be no storms. But of we obey Jesus we will always survive life's storms.
The storm contains rain, flood and wind which represent the three of the main
stresses in life:
1.The steady rain of stressful small stuff.
2.The flood events of the rise of iniquity and of major social catastrophe.
3.The winds of changing times and intense spiritual attacks.
Surviving the rain of small stuff:
a) We do not be anxious about anything but with prayer and supplication we
make our requests known to God. (Philippians 4:6,7)
b) We reduce life's complexity by living quiet meek and humble lives and walking in the truth and thus dwelling in the peace that this brings. (Matthew 11:28-30, 1 Timothy 2:2)
c) We walk in the Spirit by faith and have godly priorities that enable us to redeem the time and manage our lives. (Ephesians 5:15-20)
d) We cultivate the fruit of the Spirit and the wisdom of God. And avoid the lusts of the flesh and demonic lower wisdom and stinking thinking. (Galatians 5:16-23, James 3:13-18)
Surviving the flood events of the rise of iniquity and social catastrophe:
a) Faith - God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.
b) Looking for signs of God at work in the situation - Come behold the works of the Lord! (Psalm 46:8)
c) Peace - Be still and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10)
d) Hope - We cultivate an eternal perspective that knows this world is passing away and that such events are temporary. (2 Corinthians 4:17-5:7)
e) Wisdom - We dwell among the righteous and in the place of the protection of God. (Psalm 16:1-6)
f) Love God and Call On Him – (Psalm 91:14-16)
Surviving the winds of changing times and intense spiritual attacks:
a) We know and can discern the times and can respond appropriately. (Ecclesiastes
8:5,6; Luke 12:56, 1 Chronicles 12:32)
b) We put in the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
c) Be alert and resist the Devil and all his tricks and schemes. (James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8,9, 2 Corinthians 2;11)
d) Because we know our God we can be strong and do valiant exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
Life is difficult but if we obey the commands of Jesus we will develop the spiritual skills needed to survive life's storms. If we ignore Christ's commands we will not develop the spiritual skills needed in life but instead we will erode the very foundation of our existence.
We cannot get rid of stress, but we can live through stress and become better and more solid people inside. You can choose to be better or to be bitter. You can choose to be strong in the crisis, or to complain endlessly and rebel loudly. You can have faith that God will come through, or you can grumble against Him and be destroyed. If we obey the commands of Jesus we will react the right way when the trials come. We will be solid and strong, we will have the solid foundation of a life well lived and that will see us through.
And it fell, and great was its fall. - When a wrongly built life collapses it is not just damaged, it is utterly ruined.
Proverbs 24:16 HCSB Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.
Proverbs makes much of this:
Proverbs 11:3-8 HCSB The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them. (4) Wealth is not profitable on a day of wrath, but righteousness rescues from death. (5) The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness. (6) The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires. (7) When the wicked dies, his expectation comes to nothing, and hope placed in wealth vanishes. (8) The righteous is rescued from trouble; in his place, the wicked goes in.
Proverbs 11:27-28 HCSB The one who searches for what is good finds favor, but if someone looks for trouble, it will come to him. (28) Anyone trusting in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.
Proverbs 28:18 HCSB The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall.
The Authority of Jesus
28) And it happened, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His doctrine. (29) For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Jesus is not offering opinions, He is offering absolutes! Nor is Jesus offering carefully foot-noted and referenced academic treatise, He is speaking as the one sent from God, the expert, the one who truly knows the truth. The scribes were divided into schools of opinions over this or that and they tried to accumulate bits and pieces of authority to back them up. But Jesus simply spoke from God. His favorite phrase was “Truly, truly I say unto you”.. Not 'as Hillel says or as Moses says” but straight from Himself and from no other.
Here is Jesus speaking about the vast heavenly authority behind His sayings:
Matthew 24:35 HCSB Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.
Mark 8:38 HCSB For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
John 5:24 HCSB "I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.
John 6:63 HCSB The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn't help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
John 8:31-32 HCSB So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. (32) You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:51 HCSB I assure you: If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death--ever!"
John 12:46-50 HCSB I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness. (47) If anyone hears My words and doesn't keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. (48) The one who rejects Me and doesn't accept My sayings has this as his judge: the word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (49) For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak. (50) I know that His command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."
John 14:23-24 HCSB Jesus answered, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (24) The one who doesn't love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.
John 15:7 HCSB If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
Matthew 13:18-23 HCSB "You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: (19) When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn't understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. (20) And the one sown on rocky ground--this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. (21) Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. (22) Now the one sown among the thorns--this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (23) But the one sown on the good ground--this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown."
The words of Jesus are serious words, they are spirit and they are life, they are words we must listen to and words we must obey. Only Jesus seriously claims to have words that will outlast the heavens and the earth. Only Jesus speaks the words that will judge us on the Day of Judgment. Only Jesus speaks words that bring eternal life.
These are the words that make us fully human, fully alive and fully spiritual, which is why I have devoted my life to teaching them to other people. These are the words, which if they abide in us, make it possible for our prayers to be answered and which make us fruitful and which set us free. These are not like the words of the newspapers which are here today and are burned tomorrow. These are the words of truth which we must hear and we must obey.
In the passage in Luke about the house on the rock it says “and he dug deep” to lay the foundation on the word of God. We have to dig deep into the Scriptures and study them, meditate on them, think about them and then apply them in our daily life. We have to move from ignorance to knowledge, from knowledge to understanding and from understanding to belief and then we need to put our belief into practice.
Think of playing golf, at first you are ignorant of even the basic rules of the game, then you gain knowledge, and after watching Tiger Woods on TV for a while you gain a little understanding, then you gain the belief that you might actually like to play golf. But you are still not a golf player. You have to pick up the clubs and get on a course. Then you play your first nine holes and wow its hard! The ball goes everywhere! It is not like Tiger Woods at all. So you get golf books and golf videos and you learn a bit, then you go out and practice a bit, then you correct that, and learn a bit more, and you practice again. There is this constant interplay between learning and practicing. That is just like the interplay between bible study and obedience. We learn a bit, we try it out, we get puzzled, study a bit more, put it into practice and grow spiritually one step at a time. Our goal is not a perfect round of golf, but a perfect Christian life full of grace and glory.
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